Reef and Fishery Assessment of Navassa Island National Wildlife Refuge

On April 23, 2009 scientists from the NOAA's Southeast Fisheries Science Center in Miami Florida (SEFSC) departed from San Juan, Puerto Rico aboard the NOAA Ship Nancy Foster. Their destination: the Navassa National Wildlife Refuge. Along with the NOAA scientists are researchers from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (UM/RSMAS), the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and the Director of the Fondation pour la Protection de la Biodiversité Marine (FoProBiM), an NGO based in Haiti.
This work is funded by the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Our new Arrival... Navassito!

Its a boy... girl.... both actually! Elkhorn coral is one of many hermaphroditic corals so it is both male and female at the same time. Every August after the full moon adult colonies release gametes that float to the surface and fertilize to form a coral larva (planula) that will be carried by the currents for a week before it lands on the reef and turns into a baby coral. If they beat the odds and make it to the right place on the reef they still have to survive many potentially fatal assaults from algae, sand, urchins or other predators to make it to a size that is even visible to the naked eye. So, when this happens there is cause for celebration, especially for the threatened Elkhorn coral!

While surveying our Elkhorn coral study plots on the Northwest Point of the island we found a new baby Elkhorn coral! It was about the size of a US silver dollar and was not there (at least not visible) when we last surveyed in 2006 and it is bigger than we would expect for a 9 month old born in August 2008 so it is at least a year and 9 months. If it were born in August 2006 we would not have been able to see it due to its small size during our November 2006 visit so it is probably at most 2 years and 9 months old. We were very excited and decided to name it Navassito. Welcome to the world Navassito!

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